Source Newsroom: Columbia University School of Nursing
Newswise — No one wants to go to the hospital— and probably even more so— no one wants to return. But more than 1 million Americans get re-admitted to the hospital just weeks after they are discharged, and in some cases, for reasons that they themselves could have prevented.
Mary Donovan-Johnson, DNP, Program Director of the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program at Columbia University School of Nursing, was personally involved in thousands of patient discharges in more than a decade as an acute care nurse practitioner managing the care of liver and heart transplant recipients.
“Discharges are often rushed and patients may be overwhelmed during this stressful time” said Donovan-Johnson. “If you don’t understand something a medical provider said, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor or nurse to repeat the instructions. It's not unusual for them to have to go over information more than once. Ask the person accompanying you home to listen and take notes when instructions are being explained by your medical team.”
Other tips for patients to avoid a second trip to the hospital include:
• During your discharge, get everything the medical team tells you in writing including instructions for wound care, medications, and dietary restrictions. Keep these instructions in an easily accessible place.
• Once you get home, follow instructions for medications and their dosages. Often the dosages were for medications you took before you were in the hospital, and they have changed since after discharge. If you are unsure, call your doctor or nurse.
• Make sure you keep any follow-up appointments and procedures including office visits and blood tests.
“Ideally, the same team of doctors and nurses who worked with the patient would discharge them since they know the protocol in their medications, wound-care, and how to set up the safest environment at home for them. But unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen,” said Donovan. “So the patient needs to be vigilant about being an active participant in their recovery.”
Mary Donovan-Johnson is available for comment. To schedule an interview, please contact Rachel Zuckerman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-305-4092.